We’d served in a youth shelter in downtown Houston and on a Habitat build in New Orleans where we spent lunches in a soup kitchen, so why did this next youth mission trip sound so different? I thought I was open to serving anywhere, but this would stretch my faith. A border crossing, a language I couldn’t speak, desperate living conditions, and a question of what impact were we really able to make…
That year, our youth director decided to take us to a border town in Mexico to serve in the colonias. The colonias are shanty towns along the Texas-Mexico border, defined by sub-standard housing (most lived in cardboard boxes and shacks), very limited access to drinkable water or sewage systems (the area we served had one puny spigot for running water), and extreme poverty. How would this group of teenagers make any difference here? We didn’t even speak the language…
Sometimes God calls us to the unimaginable, so He can do the incredible
Jonah was a prophet, who had dedicated his life to sharing God’s word with the people of Israel. He was busy doing God’s work and had a thriving ministry. Yet, God called him to go to the one place he desperately didn’t want to go – Nineveh, a city of pagans and the enemies of Israel.
We all know the story of how Jonah fought this call, running away and getting on a boat destined for the opposite side of the world. God stopped his running away with a fierce storm and Jonah asked the sailors to throw him overboard so God would calm the storm. Jonah was then swallowed by a large fish, in whose belly he stayed for 3 days where he prayed and agreed to follow God’s call. When he was returned to dry land, God again called Jonah to go to Nineveh.
What God orchestrated out of Jonah’s obedience was beyond what Jonah could have imagined, beyond incredible. The entire city of Nineveh repented and believed God.
Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. – Jonah 3:3-5,10
What is your Nineveh?
Sometimes God calls us to step into our unimaginable, so He can do the incredible. We’re called to serve everyday in the world around us – at home, in our church, and in our local community – but what about those far-away places? What about the places where we don’t want to go, where life is so very different and foreign, where we feel uncomfortable and ill-equipped to help, where we are forced to confront our own prejudices?
Is God calling you to take a big step and go to your Nineveh? To go to that place you’re not sure makes sense and not sure your heart can truly love? India, Africa, Peru, Mexico, Haiti, or even some place closer to home?
You may not know what you have to offer or why God is placing this on your heart, but don’t discount what He may have planned for you or the people there.Sometimes God calls us into our unimaginable, so He can do the incredible. Click To Tweet
Trust God’s call and His plans
I’m not sure who was blessed more on our trip to Mexico, us or the people we went to serve, but isn’t that often God’s way? We did plenty of manual labor to help build the church there and passed out clothes to the community, but mostly we played with the children. I still remember this one little girl who just wanted me to swing her around and around, let her fly for just a moment.
My privileged teenager heart was opened to the broader world, to the plight of so many living in poverty, and to a love that crosses borders, nationalities, languages, socio-economic standing, politics, and opportunity. I learned from one mother, who offered to share her meager dinner with us, that God transforms our hearts no matter our circumstances. She had little, but still wanted to give from what she had – a true servant’s heart.
Our mission extends beyond our local communities
Jesus commanded us to go out and make disciples of ALL nations, serving broadly as well as at home. While you may not be able to serve internationally on a frequent basis, you can still support others who are going. Consider ways you can go to your Nineveh, wherever it is that God’s calling your heart – in person on a mission trip, through prayers and funds for another team, through sponsorships and donations to local organizations, and through opening your heart to love the people no matter how different their lives are from yours.
Where is God calling you and how will you respond?
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20
It’s like you are speaking directly to me, Kathryn. I’ve been avoiding going to Swaziland for a few years now out of unnecessary fear. My daughter and husband went a couple of years ago and are planning to go back next summer. We sponsor 4 children there and I would love to meet them. I don’t even know what makes me so fearful of the trip but something certainly does. Thanks for the encouragement!
Hmmm… Sounds like you’re being called to pray about joining your daughter on their trip next summer
Holly Barrett says
Love this post, Kathryn. I’ve just recently received some insight into why I might be where I am right now, and serving in a position that wasn’t my first choice. Amazing how God uses things that we can’t even imagine to teach us and to show Himself to others.
How wonderful to have that curtain pulled back just a little to see a piece of God’s plan! It’s hard to trust sometimes that when we’re not where we want to be, it might still be the right place for His plan. We just have to be obedient to His call – even if it’s not to the place we want to be. (definitely one I struggle with!)
Thanks so much for sharing this on Coffee and Conversation!
Valerie Sisco at Grace with Silk says
Wonderful truths in this post and what an incredible trip that must have been! When God asks us to move forward and we’re not sure how it’s going to turn out, it always opens the opportunity for him to do the incredible — well said, friend! 🙂
It was an incredible trip – and I look forward to going somewhere again (but maybe not in this current season of my life). Love seeing what God can do with our obedience!
Love that photo of you and your little friend. I imagine that you’ve thought of her and prayed for her over the years. Your post really got me thinking about the truth that sometimes our Nineveh might not involve a border crossing or any type of trip. It’s all about obedience!
That is one of my favorite pictures – loved that little girl! I think our Ninevehs are any of those places God calls us but we’re reluctant to go. It’s about confronting our fears, our prejudices, our inadequacies – and just being obedient to letting God do His thing with us. I have a lot to learn from this one!
Kathryn, I grew up in El Paso, and drove several times weekly along the border, where I could see colonias, JUST LIKE IN YOUR PICTURE. Exactly. Thank you for reminding us of our mission today!
There’s so much need (as in so many other places in the world) that I sometimes wonder what difference could we do in a short visit. Maybe we at least dropped a little love into their world. It’s a place that touched my heart – never imagined I’d walk in such a place, yet grateful I did.
This is tough, because I often balk when God first tells me to do something. Why don’t I just do it because I know He has a plan?
Why indeed? So hard to follow His plan when we think we have the better one.
I’m visiting from the Grace and Truth Link up.
I really like your site and your post today.
What a great reminder to be open and willing to God’s call. We are in full-time ministry, and we are living out your quote, “Sometimes God calls us into our unimaginable, so He can do the incredible.”
Appreciate your encouragement today~
Hi, Kathyrn! I can’t tell you how I appreciate this post! As a grown MK, part of my heart still lies with the unreached people groups. So many lost and asking for truth to be brought to their tribes! What a good connection between going beyond our comfort zone and Jonah. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this with us at Grace and Truth last week!
Jen @ Being Confident of This